Secretary-General praises faith, resilience of Haitian people amid tragedy

Haitians wave to a departing US helicopter after it delivered food and water.

21 January 2010 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lauded the faith and resilience of the Haitian people in the wake of last week’s catastrophic earthquake, saying he was confident that, with the support of the international community, they will overcome this tragedy.

“Haitians have proven their resilience many times. They are showing that same, extraordinary resilience and sense of solidarity today,” Mr. Ban said during a mass last night at the Holy Family Church in New York in remembrance of those who died in Haiti.

“Haitians are a people of strong faith, which sustains and comforts them during this difficult time,” the Secretary-General added, while stressing that the people of the small Caribbean nation need massive support at this crucial time.

“Haiti needs all of our help. It needs your help,” he stated.

The UN chief added that for the world body, the earthquake is “the gravest single tragedy in the history of the Organization.”

Nearly 50 UN personnel have lost their lives and many are still not accounted for. Among those confirmed to have died when the quake reduced the Christopher Hotel, headquarters of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in Port-au-Prince, the capital, are Special Representative Hédi Annabi and his Deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa.

“Yet, the United Nations is carrying out its work,” said Mr. Ban, who witnessed the relief effort first hand when he visited Port-au-Prince on Sunday. “The United Nations and the international community have mobilized humanitarian assistance and early recovery operations.

“Our mission was up and running again within hours of the disaster, despite the fact that some of those working had lost close family members, friends and colleagues,” he said.

Speaking to reporters prior to the service, Mr. Ban said that the UN will continue to coordinate with the international community to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance to the 3 million people that have been affected by the quake.

He said the current priorities are to provide security, to provide humanitarian assistance, and to discuss how to reconstruct Haiti and its economy.

The Secretary-General voiced his confidence that, with the international community standing behind them, Haitians can make it through this difficult time.

“I was impressed by the resilience and determined will of the leadership of Haiti, President Préval, the Prime Minister, and most importantly, the people who are united. And together, with the international community, I am sure that we will overcome this tragedy.”


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